tumblr_mh666j8NFI1qdgauwo1_500It’s been just over a year since I took a leap and quit my clock in and clock out job. I worked there for over five years and the work was becoming less and less satisfying. My hours were continuing to get cut, the work I was handed was intended for the brainless and those who just wanted to skim by to get a paycheck, and my confidence was dwindling by the second. I missed trying to come up with something amazing instead of something just to get the job done. My creative soul was being extinguished and it hurt bad!

I can remember moving here from Los Angeles to be with the man who is now my husband. In LA, I had a two hour commute there and two hours back. I worked as a graphic designer, creating hangtags, labels, and other little tidbits that you find on clothing. It was a blast working long hours, putting together over the top presentations to wow the customers, and to see the Los Angeles skyline glimmer in the sunrise as I took that turn off the 10 freeway. It was exciting and I felt that I had made it, but I needed to follow a different part of my heart. So, I moved here.

First couple of days of being here I landed a job as a graphic designer for a man who ran a small local coupon book. It was good for about a week until I had someone over my shoulder every time my hands hit the keyboard. Designing for the coupon book was fine, but then I started designing for his new printing company, car magazines, and the list goes on, all while he was over my shoulder. The paycheck was what kept me there, until six month later I asked for a raise and got the response, “You will get a raise when you can read my mind.” I left that moment and called my boyfriend balling. I had no back up plan.

Every day I checked to see if jobs were posted online and each one I contacted. One interview I went to, I was told that there was going to be some manual labor and I was actually excited about that! Putting together signage that you designed seemed like an awesome job. But, I was told, “Well, you’re a pretty girl and we don’t know if you can do that”.  Another interview came months later and I was told, “I don’t look like a typical designer”.

Finally the job I stayed 5 years at came along. I was beyond excited to work at a print shop and learn the ins and outs of printing. I worked so hard, coming up with ideas every week, but was shot down. I didn’t let it get me down, and I continued working 150%. In June of 2009, I got married, went on a honeymoon, and came back to a job that had cut my hours. I received one raise 9 months from when I started working there, and my hours were continuing to get cut back. The work was not challenging, the environment was toxic, and my fire was going out. Freelance graphic design work was coming in sporadically, and it was always fun. I just felt that it wasn’t enough for me to continue to pay the bills.

The search had started again for a job, while working for the print shop. I went to a job interview and was asked more questions about what my husband did than about my qualifications. Unless, you would count one of my qualifications as not having kids, because “kids get sick and then you have to take time off”. Several months later I went to another job interview and didn’t get the job because I had too much experience, so they hired a kid straight out of college.

It wasn’t until one night I woke up next to my bedroom door screaming at the top of my lungs. My heart was pounding, I felt like I was going to pass out, and I was terrified. I felt completely cornered, depressed, and hopeless. My health, mentally and physically, was hurting and I was in a very bad place. What was I going to do? I decided I was the only person in charge of my life so the next day I quit my job.

Now, I own my graphic design business and I am happy. No, I am not rolling in dough by any means, but I do have electricity and food, a wonderful relationship, and creative ideas flowing. There is still so much for me to learn and I am scared but more excited. The biggest hurdle for me is to continue to believe in myself and to grow that confidence back to where it used to be. Thanks to the wonderful support I have, I am able to do what I love.

Sending happiness out to everyone!

Jenny

Jawbone UP

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For months I had been talking about this Jawbone UP and constantly going back to the website to see if it would be worth purchasing. With a tagline of: Know Yourself. Live Better, you wonder, do I really know how healthy I am? So, one day I came home and there was a Jawbone UP sitting right next to my phone. “Someone” had enough of me talking about it that they went and purchased it for me. 🙂

So far, I have had the UP for about two weeks and I do feel better and have lost some weight, but not because the band did it, rather because I did it. Because I was able to see what I ate, how idle or active I was and maybe I am a bit of a carb lover, I was able to live a little healthier. I like to call my UP band my reminder. Yes you have to manually log in your food intake and some workouts, like weight lifting, but they have designed it to be soooooo easy. Also, it is very detailed so you don’t feel like you are getting a completely inaccurate reading.  In order for the entire UP system to work you need: a Jawbone UP band, the UP app, and of course yourself.

Here is a list of what the Jawbone UP helps you track:

Sleep and Nap Tracking

24/7 Activity Tracking

Food & Drink Tracking

Mood Tracking

Insight Engine

Idle Alert

Smart Alarm

10-Day Battery

Water Resistant Design

Day and Night Form Factor

Power Nap

Simple Sync

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This is what your home screen will look like on your UP App. This image was taken at the end of one of my days so that you can see how it logs everything in a simple chart. The purple column represents the amount of sleep I got, the orange represents my activity, and the green is my food and water. See how the orange column says 122%? I have a goal programmed into the program of reaching 10,000 steps a day, which can be difficult considering I am at a desk all day. I exceeded my goal this day and so the app lets me know!

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By clicking on the orange (active) column, it will give you the specifics on your entire day. Now, you don’t have to wait until the end of the day to see all of your stats, you can plug in your UP band to your phone, computer, or iPad, at any time and it will five you a reading up to the time you plugged it in.

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When clicking on the purple (sleep) column, this lets you know way more than many think they could know about their sleep.

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The green (nutritional) column, shows you if exactly what you ate. I obviously ate too many carbs and protein that day, but I’m not going to cry about it. It’s a real eye opener to see where you are getting your nutrition from.

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This is the screen that comes up when you are entering your food. Beyond Breakfast & Pastries, there are 7 more categories to choose from. Each category has a wide range of items to select from. In fact, there hasn’t been one food that I have not found. Better yet, at the top of the screen there is a scan button. You click on that and scan the barcode of the item you are consuming and all the info comes up, you just have to adjust how many servings you had. You can also take a photo of the food you ate, just in case you want to recreate it again.

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This image shows the more manual side of things, where you would log in anything that you did. Just like the nutritional part, there are a wide range of activities and you can adjust the intensity of your workout, the duration, etc.

Being active all my life and then becoming accustomed to being sedentary has been a hard transition for me. The Jawbone UP has helped me to remind myself that it is important for me to be healthy and not to just completely veg out. I would recommend this product for anyone who has enough drive to living a healthy lifestyle themselves, but needs just a little something to keep it up.

 

 

Get Some Energy!

Lesja Chernish. Click on image to view more of her work.

Lesja Chernish. Click on image to view more of her work.

When you wake up, in the middle of the day, at the end of the day, you may experience this certain state which I prefer to call “tired”.  My first passing thought is to crawl into bed and take a nice peaceful nap, but, I have heard this isn’t the best option. After perusing the internet in search of what to write for Wellness Wednesday, I came across a website I used to frequently visit called zenhabits.net. I had forgotten how simple this website is on such a variety of topics. All of course are to benefit your well being. Lo and behold, an article screamed at me, “55 Ways to Get More Energy”. Hello! I could only really think of one, maybe two. I would also like to note that this article is not a direct product of zenhabits.net, but of Greg Go, co-author of Wise Bread‘s new book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. So, take a look and see if any of these 55 interest you in getting some energy into your day! Let us know if this article missed anything or if you know one of these works for you.

55 Ways to Get More Energy

If you’re tired all the time, a change in what you eat (diet) or what you do all day (activity pattern) may be all you need to turn things around 180°.

You won’t be able to do everything on this list all the time — you’d tire yourself out trying to get more energy — but do try them all to see which ones work for you and your schedule. Add a few of these tips to your regular routine. Or mix them up to keep things interesting.

1. Change your socks for refreshment.

It’s an amazing trick. Bring a change of socks to work, and change your socks midway through the day (say, after lunch). You’ll be amazed at how much fresher you’ll feel. This trick is especially handy on days with lots of walking — like during a hike or family outing to the amusement park.

2. Rock out loud.

Whether you work alone or in a room with coworkers, a quick one-song rock out loud session is an effective way to beat back exhaustion.

In a cube farm? Get everyone to sing along! The key is to choose a song that everyone can sing along with. (I like Kokomo.) The energy boosting effect comes from bobbing your head and singing out loud. One song, 3 minutes. That’s a quick boost of adrenaline that lasts for a bit. You’ll be singing to yourself the rest of the never ending project delivery night.

3. Get rid of the stuffy nose.

If allergies have your sinuses blocked, you may be feeling more tired and cranky. An over-the-counter allergy medication should clear up your sinuses (and your mind).

4. Work with your body’s clock.

There is a natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day. We start off sluggish after waking up, even after a solid 8 hours of sleep. Our energy peaks mid-morning, and it’s natural to want a siesta in the afternoon. We get a second spike of energy in the early evening, followed by our lowest energy point just before bedtime. Once you understand this natural rhythm of energy throughout the day, you can work on the important tasks during your peak hours and avoid early afternoon snoozefests (meetings).

5. Have a piece of chocolate.

Not too much, but if you’re going to have some candy, it might as well be chocolate. We get an endorphin buzz from chocolate (not to mention the energy boost from the slight bit of caffeine chocolate contains). Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate.

6. Have an afternoon power snack.

A small healthy snack that is low in sugar and has protein and/or fiber a couple hours after lunch helps you finish off the day strong. Some suggestions:

  • mixed nuts
  • nonfat yogurt
  • apple and peanut butter
  • frozen berrie smoothie
  • trail mix
  • granola bar

7. Hit up the water cooler for inconsequential banter.

A little midday gossip and random banter is a great pick-me-up for your tired mind. It works because it gets your mind on zero-stress thoughts for a while. The mental break for just a few minutes will revitalize you.

8. Eat lots of berries.

Especially berries that are blue, red, or purple. The color comes from anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant, that boosts energy. Any kind of berry will contain tons.

9. Wear brighter colors.

This trick is related to the mood you project to people, and the reciprocating mood they project towards you. If you wear dark, somber colors, you project a dark, somber attitude, and people will respond to you with a somber attitude. If you wear bright, happy colors, you’ll get that attitude projected towards you, which will boost your own mood and energy levels.

10. Take a power nap.

But do it in your chair. Don’t lie down on the sofa or you won’t get back up. Keep it short: 5-10 minutes max. Any longer and it will have the opposite effect of knocking you out for the rest of the day.

11. Flirt.

It’s fun, it’s harmless (keep it innocent), and it’s effective. Nothing quite gets the heart pumping like a little flirting.

12. Aromatherapy with lavender.

Research has shown that the lavender scent increases alertness. Test subjects were given math tests before and after 3 minutes of lavender aromatherapy. The group completed the tests faster and more accurately after aromatherapy.

13. Wake up at the same time everyday.

Including weekends. This sets your body clock. Otherwise, you’ll be wide awake when you should be asleep. Or worse, asleep when you should be awake (dozing off in a meeting is embarrassing). The key is to go to bed at the same time every night. If you need to reset your sleep cycle in one day, stop eating for the 16 hours before the time you want to wake up.

14. Drink lots of water.

Dehydration is a sinister cause of fatigue because it slowly creeps up on you. If you consistently drink less than 8 cups of water a day, you may be sluggish all the time. Get a 32 oz (1 quart, 4 cups) water bottle. Your goal is to polish off 2 of those a day. Try it for a week and see if your general energy level increases.

15. Use caffeine wisely.

Coffee and caffeinated sodas can boost your alertness, but be careful about letting it be a habitual crutch. The temptation to drink more caffeine to get even more energy will be strong. Eventually you’ll be downing 5 double-shot espressos a day just to function. Drink coffee earlier in the day to avoid insomnia, which will make the next day worse.

16. Avoid energy drinks.

Energy drinks provide a near-instant hyperactivity boost, but they always result in a crash. Energy drinks are like energy credit cards — you’re spending future energy to get short-term energy. The resulting energy deficit gets worse until you hit energy bankruptcy.

17. Eat low glycemic (low or complex carb) foods.

Trade in good, complex carbohydrates (low glycemic index) for the bad, simple carbs (sugar). Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index means the sugar is more easily digested by your body. That results in a spike in energy followed by a low-sugar crash.

High glycemic index foods to avoid include white bread, potato, and high sugar foods (like sodas). Low glycemic foods (the good carb foods) include fruits and vegetables, grains (eg., whole wheat bread), low-carb foods (eg., meats), and pasta. Check this chart of foods and their glycemic index before your next trip to the grocery store.

18. Eat more soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is the kind that slows down the rate of absorption of sugars. It evens out your energy levels by preventing a sugar high and crash. (By the way, insoluble fiber is the kind that prevents constipation.) Don’t worry too much about which kind of fiber you’re getting — they’re both good for you. Rotate more high soluble fiber foods like nuts, grains, fruits, plant matter (vegetables), beans, and oats into your diet.

19. Get your Vitamin C.

Get a daily dose of citrus fruits (eg., orange juice in the morning) or a vitamin C tablet. Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue. Vitamin C also helps you absorb more nutrients from food.

20. Sniff some citrus.

In addition to the Vitamin C, citrus scents (like orange, lemon and lime) stimulate alertness. So lather on some of that lemon scented lotion.

21. Cover the B Vitamins.

B vitamins cover a range of bodily functions, but most B vitamins are involved in the process of converting blood sugar into usable energy. To ensure you get the proper amount of B vitamins, eat a balanced diet.

22. Quit smoking.

Ex-smokers frequently report an energy boost of 2-3x when they quit smoking. Nicotine affects your sleep, so you don’t get as good a night’s sleep. That makes you cranky, frustrated and tired the next day. Which leads to more smoking. It’s a vicious energy sapping cycle.

23. Play to relax.

Playing a game keeps your mind working (versus, say, watching TV), but doesn’t have any of the energy-sapping stresses of work. Go ahead and play that quick game of Scrabble on Facebook, but have a strict time limit if you don’t want your boss to say something.

24. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Snack throughout the day. By eating smaller but more frequent “meals”, you will maintain a steady dose of energy instead of experiencing food comas. Don’t snack on fatty and sugar laden junk food though. You may get a short 30 minute burst of hyperalertness, but it’ll be quickly followed by a debilitating crash.

25. Enjoy a cup of tea.

In a recent study, University College London researchers noted that drinking a cup of tea 4-6 time a day reduces stress hormone levels in your body. The study’s results suggest “drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life.”

26. Splash some water on your face.

Just letting the cool water hit your face washes off the grime and stresses of the day. You could also jump in the pool or take a shower for the same effect. Showers stimulates the circulatory system and metabolism. Get wet to feel more energetic.

27. Stand up, stretch and take a couple of deep breaths.

Stretch your arms, back, legs, and neck. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it, and let it out slowly and forcefully. Repeat several times. This will take 30 seconds and will be an instant fix. When you sit back down, you’ll have the clear head and fresh feeling needed to power through the tough/boring task in front of you.

28. Get your world organized.

When your world is organized, you don’t have to expend mental energy keeping track of a million things. Here’s how to take back control of your time and productivity:

29. Look on the bright side.

A generally upbeat and optimistic outlook on life will keep your energy level up. Yes, the worst thing that can happen might actually happen, but giving it too much worry will only drain you. Look for the positive in every situation and you won’t be so tired.

30. Take a mini-vacation.

Take one day and just do whatever you want. No work, no chores, no errands. Enjoy your one full day of vacation, then come back to work more motivated and energetic.

31. Eat a satisfying breakfast but a light lunch.

A heavy lunch, especially one with lots of carbs or fat (like a burger combo) will hit you as soon as you get back to the office. And it’ll be a sluggishness that lasts to the end of the day. Eat a big breakfast instead. It provides the fuel you need for the day, at the time when your body needs it the most. Not only will you avoid the afternoon food coma, the big breakfast will make you more productive in the mornings. Double win.

32. Choose protein over fat or carbs.

Foods with lean (low fat) protein help you feel fuller for longer. It also prevents blood sugar spikes, giving you more steady energy. Lean protein foods include fish and other seafood, lean pork, or chicken breasts (“white meat”).

33. Shed a few pounds.

The things you do to lose weight — exercise, drink water, avoid simple sugars — are actions that also have a positive effect on your energy level. Even better, the actual loss of excess fat provides an energy boost of its own. You’ll feel “lighter” and things that use to make you breathless will now seem much easier. Losing weight provides a double-impact to boosting your energy.

But be careful with fad and/or crash diets. Cutting out too many calories (ie., energy your body needs) too fast will cause you to be even more tired. Take small steps, and make it a lifestyle change so you shed the fat for life.

34. Listen to tunes while you work.

It’s well known that our brain’s pleasure centers light up when we hear music. Throwing on the headphones and listening to any music you like while working will give you a productivity boost.

35. Start exercising.

If you have a fairly sedentary life, just the idea of starting an intense exercise program is exhausting. But if you go slow, literally taking one step at a time, you can go from being sedentary to becoming a runner just like Leo.

36. Eliminate stress.

Stress is draining. Sometimes it’s worth it, like when you’re on a deadline to delivery a big project. Sometimes it’s just a waste of energy. Leo says,

Certain things in our life just cause us to be more exhausted than others, with less value. Identify them, and cut them out. You’ll have much more energy and much less stress. Happiness ensues.

Here’s how to eliminate stress from your life.

37. Have more sex.

Talk about an endorphin rush! If you keep those endorphins flowing regularly, you’ll have more natural energy. Literally, more bounce to your step.

38. Move gym time to the morning.

A lot of people go to the gym after work. Try going to the gym in the morning instead to get energy that lasts all day. Sure, you’ll have to wake up an hour or two earlier, but you get that time back at night. That exercise in the morning gets the endorphins flowing, which keeps you happy and productive the rest of the day. By exercising in the morning instead of at night, you spend the same amount of time at the gym, but get the added benefit of having more energy at work.

39. Purge low-value tasks from your todo list.

If you have a ridiculously long todo list that is impossible to get all the way through, you’ll feel tired just thinking about the todo list. If you want to actually cross off tasks from your todo list, you’ll need to throw out the crap tasks that you don’t want/need to deal with. Either delegate those tasks, move them into a second “nice but not critical” list, or just admit that they’re probably never going to get done and move them to the “maybe/someday” list. Shortening your todo list to just the most critical, must-do tasks will give you the “energy” to start knocking out those tasks.

40. Avoid the mid-day cocktail.

If you want to function in the afternoon, avoid alcohol at lunch. Even if it’s just one beer. Alcohol’s sedative effects will take hours to recover from, killing the rest of your afternoon.

41. Get a massage.

Loosen up those tight muscles and you’ll feel more relaxed. A more relaxed you means a happier and more productive you. Trade a quick shoulder rub with a coworker after lunch to perk both of you up for the rest of the afternoon.

42. Dress up.

Feeling better about yourself has a magical way of giving you more energy. Put just a tad more effort into looking your best for work, and you’ll get compliments from coworkers that will make you feel better — and make you a perkier, more energetic worker bee.

43. Don’t drink yourself to sleep.

Alcohol keeps your body from entering deep sleep, so even if you get the same hours of sleep, you won’t feel as rested. Limit alcohol the hours before bedtime to get the best night’s sleep.

44. Get a thyroid test from your doctor.

If you are chronically fatigued, it may be a symptom of hypothyroidism. That’s when not enough thyroid hormone is produced, with fatigue as one of its symptoms. Visit the doctor if you’ve been tired for a long time and haven’t had a checkup in a while.

45. Take a walk outside.

Getting outside for some fresh air, a change of scenery, and a quick walk to get your blood going will do wonders for your mood and motivation. Seeing the sun is a signal to your body that it’s not bedtime yet.

46. Lower your blood pressure.

Besides being a risk factor for a heart attack, high blood pressure makes you fatigued. If you haven’t seen your doctor lately, go in and get your blood pressure checked.

47. Rotate yogurt into your diet.

Yogurt with live cultures keep your digestive system clean, which helps your body absorb all the nutrients from food. That makes you healthier and more energetic. Yogurt is also a good low-fat snack.

48. Have a laugh.

Laughter is great medicine for exhaustion. Make sure you laugh regularly to keep your mood up. Seek out funny people or subscribe to a daily email joke. I like the geeky comic xkcd for a quick smile. What’s your favorite quick funny pick-me-up?

49. Add more cardio to your gym time.

The aerobic exercise gets your blood pumping. It builds stamina and endurance, which is useful for both triathalons and neverending department meetings.

50. Take up yoga.

The stretching, slow controlled movements, and focus on breathing reduces tension (and stress). The benefits include better sleep, feeling more relaxed, and being mentally sharper.

51. Eat eggs.

When people have eggs (mostly protein) for breakfast, versus bagels (all carbs), they feel more energy and eat less at the next meal. Protein makes you feel fuller without feeling stuffed, and they provide a steady stream of energy for your body (versus the quick high and crash of carbohydrates). Eggs are a great for breakfast or as an addition to a lunch salad.

52. Get a good night’s sleep.

We need 7-8 hours of sleep to be fully rested. Consistently sleeping less than 6 hours a night builds up a “sleep debt” that is hard to recover from. If you’re getting enough sleep, it should take you up to 30 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow (or while sitting at your desk), that’s a symptom of sleep deprivation.

53. Get more ginseng.

Ginseng is well-known to have energy boosting properties. It is an adaptogen, which means it build resistance to stress and boosts energy. A ginseng supplement or sipping tea with ginseng can help improve energy.

54. Socialize.

Turn off the Internet and go socialize with friends. Humans are social animals, and we need regular socializing to keep ourselves in peak health and energy.

55. Get on your toes.

Roll up and down on your toes. This stimulates your circulatory system, which will deliver much-needed oxygen and fuel (glucose) throughout your body. You’ll be more energized and sharper. You can do this right now.

Whatever You Do…DON’T SIT DOWN!!!

GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!

 

I sit down A LOT. Working on the computer is what I do! How can I help it if my job requires me to sit all day? My answer was to ask my fabulous Dad to build a desk that I could use standing up! The results are fabulous and when you get to the end of this post, you can see how it turned out!! My advice and other advice I have read….do whatever you can to stand up, walk around or dance…just don’t sit too long. Lately I have been hearing alarming facts about the health of people who sit for long periods of time. Here’s a scary statistic for you…so much so I have been thinking up ways to sleep standing up:
“According to a study in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers discovered that people who sat for 11 hours a day or more were 40 percent more likely to die – from any cause. The researchers also found the odds of dying were 15 percent higher for those who sit between eight to 11 hours a day compared to those who sit less than four hours a day.” – CBSNews.com, Michelle Castillo

Women’s Health Magazine had a great article on this unfortunate killer and I highly suggest you read through it!

You might not want to take the following stat sitting down: According to a poll of nearly 6,300 people by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, it’s likely that you spend a stunning 56 hours a week planted like a geranium—staring at your computer screen, working the steering wheel, or collapsed in a heap in front of your high-def TV. And it turns out women may be more sedentary than men, since they tend to play fewer sports and hold less active jobs.

Even if you think you are energetic, sitting all day at work is common for most of us. And it’s killing us—literally—by way of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. All this downtime is so unhealthy that it’s given birth to a new area of medical study called inactivity physiology, which explores the effects of our increasingly butt-bound, tech-driven lives, as well as a deadly new epidemic researchers have dubbed “sitting disease.”

The Modern-Day Desk Sentence
“Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move,” says James Levine,M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot. “As human beings, we evolved to stand upright. For thousands of generations, our environment demanded nearly constant physical activity.”

But thanks to technological advances, the Internet, and an increasingly longer work week, that environment has disappeared. “Electronic living has all but sapped every flicker of activity from our daily lives,” Levine says. You can shop, pay bills, make a living, and with Twitter and Facebook, even catch up with friends without so much as standing up. And the consequences of all that easy living are profound.

When you sit for an extended period of time, your body starts to shut down at the metabolic level, says Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri. When muscles—especially the big ones meant for movement, like those in your legs—are immobile, your circulation slows and you burn fewer calories. Key flab-burning enzymes responsible for breaking down triglycerides (a type of fat) simply start switching off. Sit for a full day and those fat burners plummet by 50 percent, Levine says.

That’s not all. The less you move, the less blood sugar your body uses; research shows that for every two hours spent on your backside per day, your chance of contracting diabetes goes up by 7 percent. Your risk for heart disease goes up, too, because enzymes that keep blood fats in check are inactive. You’re also more prone to depression: With less blood flow, fewer feel-good hormones are circulating to your brain.

Sitting too much is also hell on your posture and spine health, says Douglas Lentz, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the director of fitness and wellness for Summit Health in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. “When you sit all day, your hip flexors and hamstrings shorten and tighten, while the muscles that support your spine become weak and stiff,” he says. It’s no wonder that the incidence of chronic lower-back pain among women has increased threefold since the early 1990s.

And even if you exercise, you’re not immune. Consider this: We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not do enough to counteract the detrimental effects of eight, nine, or 10 hours of sitting, says Genevieve Healy, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Cancer Prevention Research Centre of the University of Queensland in Australia. That’s one big reason so many women still struggle with weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol woes despite keeping consistent workout routines.

In a recent study, Healy and her colleagues found that regardless of how much moderate to vigorous exercise participants did, those who took more breaks from sitting throughout the day had slimmer waists, lower BMIs (body mass indexes), and healthier blood fat and blood sugar levels than those who sat the most. In an extensive study of 17,000 people, Canadian researchers drew an even more succinct conclusion: The longer you spend sitting each day, the more likely you are to die an early death—no matter how fit you are.

Desk Success!!!

 

Good Health IS a Laughing Matter!

The other day I was laughing so hard at some stupid joke my co-worker made, I had tears running down my cheeks and I was kneeling on the floor. I could barely catch my breath and could not utter a word, yet I felt awesome! How is it that laughter has similarities to being in pain but it feels so good? This had me doing some research to see if there was even such a thing as benefits of laughing. I mean, yeah, it makes you smile, but is there more to it? Guess what? There is a heck of a lot more to it!!!! I checked out the Mayo Clinic’s website and they seemed to have the most realistic knowledge of the benefits of laughter…

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.

How to improve — or gain — a sense of humor

Are you afraid you have an underdeveloped — or nonexistent — funny bone? No problem. Humor can be learned. In fact, developing or refining your sense of humor may be easier than you think.

  • Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humor boost.
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
  • Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
  • Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library’s selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.
  • Know what isn’t funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful, one.

To help everyone jump start their laughing, I decided to get some jokes collected for you. They may not be side splitting, but I will guess that at least one side of your mouth will curl up in a smile!

How do you make a tissue dance?     Put a little boogie in it!

Two cannibals are eating a clown.    One says to the other: “Does this taste funny to you?”

What do you get when you play country music backwards?    “You get your house back, you get your car back, you get your wife back, you get your dog back…”

What do you call a cow with no legs?    Gound beef.

Tell Polka Dot Tango your favorite corny joke!!!

 

Words of Wisdom from Jack LaLanne

This Wellness Wednesday, Polka Dot Tango would like to honor the fitness pioneer, Jack Lalanne. For those of you who don’t know who Jack LaLanne is, take a look at http://www.jacklalanne.com/ to see all that he accomplished in his life.  Just to give you an idea of how incredible this man is here is a little fact for you:

1984 Age 70: Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles.

Jack at 40 years of age.

Yes….impressive. Jack LaLanne was the first to bring health and fitness right into the homes of those who had a television at the time. He is a large part of American history! Jack LaLanne made living a healthy life possible for everyone and his words of wisdom continue to live on! Here is a list of those famous words!

LaLanneisms

Jack LaLanne fervently believes every human being can attain maximum body health and fitness if they will practice moderation, eat the most natural foods, and exercise on a regular basis. Over the years on national television, radio talk shows and in feature stories written about Jack, certain ideas stated by Jack have become little gems known as “LaLanneisms”

Here are a few of Jack’s words of wisdom:

  • Anything in life is possible if you make it happen.
  • Anything in life is possible and you can make it happen.
  • Your waistline is your lifeline.
  • Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.
  • Don’t exceed the feed limit.
  • The food you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow.
  • Ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.
  • Better to wear out than rust out
  • Do – don’t stew.
  • People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.
  • First we inspire them, then we perspire them.
  • You eat everyday, you sleep everyday, and your body was made to exercise everyday.
  • Work at living and you don’t have to die tomorrow.
  • I can’t die, it would ruin my image.
  • If man makes it, don’t eat it.
  • If it tastes good, spit it out.
  • What’s it doing for me?
  • Your health account is like your bank account: The more you put in, the more you can take out.
  • If one apple is good, you wouldn’t eat 100.
  • It’s not what you do some of the time that counts, it’s what you do all of the time that counts.
  • Make haste slowly.
  • Eat right and you can’t go wrong.

FREE Yourself!

Free Yourself!!!!

This Things To Do Thursday is to Free Yourself! I don’t mean by taking off your bra, but if you are into that…More Power To You :)! The meaning I have behind this is to let your mind and inhibitions go for just a while. You don’t have to run out and get a tattoo or quit your day job, but to do just one thing just one day a week that makes you feel completely free. I am sure many people have so many different meanings of what this means. For me it can mean taking some time to doodle anything without having a plan or wearing that one article of clothing that has been hanging in your closet because it’s for a “special occasion” or you’re not sure if you can “pull it off”. All Polka Dot Tango is asking One Hour, One Day A Week. Below is a list of some simple ideas that may help you out with this task and I hope it helps or conjures up new ideas of your own!

Doodle with absolutely no idea what the final piece is going to look like.

Grab that article of clothing you have been dying to wear the last month or year and wear it! To work, to dinner, to bowling, wherever works.

Think of nothing. Really, nothing at all. Close your eyes, listen to what’s around you and your breathing, and don’t rush yourself.

Blow bubbles. I keep a bottle of bubbles in my car. True story.

Sing really really loud. Cracks, loss of voice, off key are all highly recommended if you are not blessed with the voice of an angel.

Say what’s on your mind knowing it will not kill you. It works miracles and you will get the greatest facial expressions back.

If you walk or run, do a cartwheel. If you don’t know how to do a cartwheel, throw up some rock on hand signs just because you’re awesome.

If you see a pretty flower, pick it and wear it in your hair.

Dance all the time.

Accept yourself and those around you. Do it peacefully and graciously.

These are just my ideas and of course everyone is different. I hope that this inspires you and let Polka Dot Tango know what you did to Free Yourself!

Get To Steppin!

Click on the image to see more amazing photos of stairs.

Every morning my dog Marty and I hit the pavement and walk for 30 minutes. Not only does it help me wake up in the morning and make Marty extra happy, but it keeps us healthy. With high cholesterol running in my family, I need to pay extra attention to myself! This means taking care of my body and a good start to achieving that is by walking. Walking has been highly recommended from all around, such as friends, magazines, the internet, moms, pretty much everywhere. Below is an article I grabbed from acefitness.org that seemed to have pretty sound advice for those who are looking to get into a healthier lifestyle and even those who are already committed to an active lifestyle.

The popularity of walking as a fitness activity has grown by leaps and bounds. Low-risk and easy to start, walking has proven its health benefits in numerous studies. An eight-year study of 13,000 people found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised. In addition, research has shown that regular walking can decrease total and intra-abdominal fat and reduce your risk of developing diabetes or breast cancer.

A regular walking program can also:

  • Improve your cholesterol profile
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase your energy and stamina
  • Boost “couch potato” bone strength
  • Prevent weight gain

Experts at the CDC and National Institute of Health recommend that every American adult engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity just about every day of the week. One way to meet this standard is to walk 2 miles briskly (about 4 miles/hr). If this is too fast,choose a more comfortable pace.

Get Ready

A walking program is simple to start. All you need are comfortable clothes and supportive shoes. Layer loose clothing, keeping in mind that brisk exercise elevates the body’s temperature. Shoes specifically designed for walking or running are best. Make sure you have a little wiggle room between your longest toe (1/2″) and the end of the shoe. Avoid cotton socks since they retain moisture and can promote blisters. To warm up, walk at an easy tempo for the first several minutes.Then gradually adopt a more purposeful pace.

Get Moving

  • Begin with short distances. Start with a strollthat feels comfortable to you (perhaps 5-10 minutes) and gradually increase your time or distance each week by 10-20% (add just a few minutes or blocks). If it’s easier on your joints and your schedule to take a couple shorter walks (10-20 minutes) instead of one long walk (30-40 minutes) each day, do it!
  • Focus on posture. Keep your head lifted, tummy pulled in and shoulders relaxed. Swing your arms naturally. Avoid carrying hand weights since these put excessive stress on the elbows and shoulders. Don’t overstride. Select a comfortable, natural step length. If you want to move faster, pull your back leg through more quickly.
  • Breathe deeply. If you can’t converse or catch your breath while walking, slow down. Initially, forget about walking speed. Just get out there on a regular basis and establish a habit of activity.

Listen to Your Body

If you experience foot, knee, hip or back pain when walking, STOP and check with your doctor to find out the cause. You may need special exercises or better shoes. If you have osteoarthritis and experience increased joint pain lasting an hour or two after walking, consider an alternate activity like stationery cycling or water exercise. Don’t stop exercising altogether!

Get Fit!

When you can walk 30-40 minutes easily, incorporate some brisk intervals into your walk. For example, walk one block fast, two blocks slow and repeat several times. Gradually add more fast intervals with shorter recovery periods. Concentrate on increasing your speed while maintaining good posture. Walking hills is a great way to tone the legs. The use of Nordic walking poles can boost the calorie-burning value of your walk while promoting good posture and overall muscle endurance. Treadmill walking, while not as scenic, can be a convenient option during inclement weather.

The end of your walk is an ideal time to stretch since your body is warmed up. Stretch your hamstrings and calves (important walking muscles) as well as your chest, shoulders and back. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Listening to lively music while you walk is a great way to energize your workout. But if you wear headphones, keep the volume down and watch out for traffic that you may not hear. Find a pleasant place to walk: a beautiful park, neighborhood or shopping mall (without your wallet!). Get a friend, co-worker or family member to join you and get in shape together.

Track your progress. Although experts recommend that you walk a minimum of 30 minutes a day, there are no hard and fast rules. If walking is part of your weight loss plan, more is better. Walking 60 minutes/day and brisk intervals will help you burn more calories. Fit walking into your schedule whenever you can. That may mean three 10-minute walks over the course of a day. The best schedule is one that keeps you walking and keeps you fit!

Happy Trails!

Wellness Wednesday: The Effects of Music!!

I listen to music every day…while I am getting ready in the morning, while I am running, while I am driving…I’m sure you get the point. I can’t help but notice that each style of music puts me in a different mood. This prompted me to research on how music effects us.I found that www.emedexpert.com had a wonderful list of what music can do for us, and boy is it positive!

“Music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain. It is intrinsic to all cultures and can have surprising benefits not only for learning language, improving memory and focusing attention, but also for physical coordination and development.”

Music heals

Effective therapy for pain
Listening to music can reduce chronic pain from a range of painful conditions, including osteoarthritis, disc problems and rheumatoid arthritis, by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%, according to a paper in the latest UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Reducing blood pressure
By playing recordings of relaxing music every morning and evening, people with high blood pressure can train themselves to lower their blood pressure – and keep it low. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.

Medicine for the heart
Music is good for your heart. Research shows that it is musical tempo, rather than style. Italian and British researchers recruited young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians. The participants slipped on head phones and listened to six styles of music, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants kicked back and listened, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. The participants had faster heart and breathing rates when they listened to lively music. When the musical slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates. Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.

Speeds Post-Stroke Recovery
A daily portion` of one’s favorite pop melodies, classical music or jazz can speed recovery from debilitating strokes, according to the latest research. When stroke patients in Finland listened to music for a couple of hours each day, verbal memory and attention span improved significantly compared to patients who received no musical stimulation, or who listened only to stories read out loud, the study reports.

Chronic headaches & migraine remedy
Music can help migraine and chronic headache sufferers reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of the headaches.

Music boosts immunity
Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response.

Effects of music on the brain

Music enhances intelligence, learning and IQ
The idea that music makes you smarter received considerable attention from scientists and the media. Listening to music or playing an instrument can actually make you learn better.

The Mozart effect
Earlier it has been thought that listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, enhances performance on cognitive tests. However, recent finding show that listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on cognition.

Music improves memory performance
The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart’s music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, cause the brain to be more capable of processing information.

Music improves concentration and attention
Easy listening music or relaxing classics improves the duration and intensity of concentration in all age groups and ability levels. It’s not clear what type of music is better, or what kind of musical structure is necessary to help, but many studies have shown significant effects.

Music improves physical performance

Choosing music that motivates you will make it easier to start moving, walking, dancing, or any other type of exercise that you enjoy. Music can make exercise feel more like recreation and less like work. Furthermore, music enhances athletic performance! Anyone who has ever gone on a long run with their iPod or taken a particularly energetic spinning class knows that music can make the time pass more quickly.

Music improves body movement and coordination
Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination. Music may play an important role in developing, maintaining and restoring physical functioning in the rehabilitation of persons with movement disorders.

Music calms, relaxes and helps to sleep

Relaxing music induces sleep
Relaxing classical music is safe, cheap and easy way to beat insomnia. Many people who suffer from insomnia find that Bach music helps them. Researchers have shown that just 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can make for a restful night.
Relaxing music reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, decreases anxiety, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate and may have positive effects on sleep via muscle relaxation and distraction from thoughts.

Music reduces stress and aids relaxation
Listening to slow, quiet classical music, is proven to reduce stress. Countless studies have shown that music’s relaxing effects can be seen on anyone, including newborns.One of the great benefits of music as a stress reliever is that it can be used while you do your usual deeds so that it really doesn’t take time.
How does music reduces stress?

  • Physical relaxation. Music can promote relaxation of tense muscles, enabling you to easily release some of the tension you carry from a stressful day.
  • Aids in stress relief activities. Music can help you get “into the zone” when practicing yoga, self hypnosis or guided imagery, can help you feel energized when exercising and recover after exercising, help dissolve the stress when you’re soaking in the tub.
  • Reduces negative emotions. Music, especially upbeat tunes, can take your mind off what stresses you, and help you feel more optimistic and positive. This helps release stress and can even help you keep from getting as stressed over life’s little frustrations in the future. Researchers discovered that music can decrease the amount of the cortisol, a stress-related hormone produced by the body in response to stress.

Music improves mood and decreases depression

Prescription for the blues
Music’s ability to “heal the soul” is the stuff of legend in every culture. Many people find that music lifts their spirits. Modern research tends to confirm music’s psychotherapeutic benefits. Bright, cheerful music (e.g. Mozart, Vivaldi, bluegrass, Klezmer, Salsa, reggae) is the most obvious prescription for the blues.

Now for some crazy music videos!!!

Wellness Wednesday: Fast Food Sucks!!!

Every corner there seems to be a fast food restaurant and at times you can’t help but pull into the drive-thru. Schedules can become busy and the first thing most people seem to do is put a healthy diet on the back burner. Doing some research on the internet, I found a website that lists some of the effects that fast food may put on not only your body but also your mind.  Next Wednesday, we will have quick healthy snacks that you can make so that you can drive past the drive-thru!! Take a look at what fitbodylife had to say about fast food and the yuck that comes with it!!

The ill effect of fast food and the potential danger that it possesses by its regular consumption is shocking. Obesity, increase in cholesterol levels, nutritional deficiencies, cardiac disorders, loss of muscle mass, depression and even sexual dysfunction, can all be caused by eating fast food on a regular basis. Soaked in trans fat and loaded with calories, fast foods are labeled as ‘health hazards’ by many leading medical professionals. Listed below are some of hazardous health effects of fast food consumption.

10 Negative Health Effects of Fast Food

#1 – Headaches
The processed meat used in fast food contain nitrates, nitrites, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate which increase blood flow and can trigger a migraine attack. Additives are used to keep the meat fresh and to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum the bacteria which causes food poisoning. The increased blood flow can cause excessive pressure to build up in the head and can lead to headaches or a feeling of a hangover.

#2 – Collection of Trans Fat
The processed food used in the fast food industry is loaded with trans fat, which not only increases the ‘bad cholesterol’ (Low Density Lipoprotein) levels but also reduces the ‘good cholesterol’ (High Density Lipoprotein) levels. Processed meat used by fast food industries can sometimes have 45% more trans fat than their natural counterparts.

#3 – Increased Cholesterol Levels
Consuming fast foods leads to an increased intake of cholesterol which is highly dangerous for humans. The cholesterol molecules attach themselves to the arteries which leads to their thickening or clogging. This can cause obstructed blood flow which can lead to high blood pressure. If cholesterol accumulates in one of the main arteries it can lead to a blockage, when an artery is completely blocked it can lead to heart attacks or complete heart failure.

#4 – Depression
Depression is one of the many negative effects of fast food. This emotional condition has been linked to regular consumption of fast foods by a study done by the University College of London. According to the study, people who indulge in fast foods regularly are 58% more likely to suffer from depression. Fast foods do not contain antioxidants, foliate and omega -3s which is necessary for good mental health. Fast foods contain preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers and flavor enhancers which can affect the mental well being of the person.

#5 – Excessive Sodium Intake
Fast foods contain high amounts of sodium which can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Although small amounts of sodium is needed for bodily functions, consuming too much can lead to not just high blood pressure, but build up of fluids in people who are suffering from liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failures or kidney ailments.

#6 – Sexual Dysfunction
What we eat affects our physical, mental, and sexual health. Fatty acids found in fast foods are a major contributor to sexual dysfunction, not only does it cause weight gain but can trigger biochemical changes which effect libido, sperm count and female ovulation.

#7 – Food Poisoning
Even if we overlook the dangers posed by low fiber, trans fat and high calories, fast food pose another problem, food poisoning. The processed meat is many times contaminated with manure which contains Escherichia Coli and Salmonella. E.Coli is considered very difficult to treat and sometimes referred to as the worst sort of food poisoning. Even after antibiotics kill the bacteria, the toxins released by it can produce harmful effects. This disease is usually spread through undercooked hamburgers and is a leading cause of renal failure among American kids.

#8 – Addictive Nature of Fast Foods
According to the Science Daily, high levels of sugar and fat can cause blood sugar to spike and then crash suddenly. The patrons of fast food feel a sudden rush of euphoria when this happens making them dependent on the euphoric effects of insulin surges. Therefore one of the harmful effects of fast food consumption is the addiction or the incessant craving it causes among people.

#9 – PFCA Contamination
The wrappers used in the fast food industry are coated with perfluoroalkyls (PAC) which prevents the grease from leaving through. These have been proven to get inside the human body and change into more harmful forms which can lead to many health complications. The wrappings used in fast food industry are a significant and indirect source of PFCA contamination.

#10 – Weight Gain
Studies have found a direct link between fast food consumption and weight gain and increased Body Mass Index (BMI). The high levels of trans fat and calories present in fast foods leads to accumulation of abdominal fat and even insulin resistance which is an early indicator of diabetes. Obesity has been ranked the number one health threat for Americans; it is also the second leading cause of preventable death in United States which claims up to 400,000 lives a year. Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart problems, hyper tension, blocked arteries, increase in cholesterol levels, malnutrition, loss of muscle mass and depression.

Fast food addiction can lead to an unhealthy and depressive sedentary lifestyle, to prevent this it’s recommended to switch to a healthy and balanced diet along with regular exercise. Hopefully, this article on the health effects of fast food consumption has been informative. Remember the key to happiness is a healthy lifestyle.